Sunday, 28 February 2010

The future of Magazines

I've just watched a programme I now watch weekly called "The bottom line". It's available in the UK as a video but in the rest of the world it's a podcast only but well worth listening too. It's very clever in that every week they have 3 business leaders from different industries but with a balance and mixture helps complete the true story that Evan Davis the presenter is trying to convey. This week they talked about outsourcing and the magazine industry and they had the Head of O2 UK (Ronan Dunne), the CEO of Future Publishing (Stevie Spring) and the CEO of First Source an Indian outsource company (Ananda Mukerji).

I was fascinated by what this mixture of people would say about the magazine industry and in particular Evan's question to Stevie on how she thought the magazine industry would look in 10 years time.

So the answer from Stevie was surprisingly honest: she did not know but they would try lots of business models, but she still thought that physical magazines would exist on the shelves and said that magazines needed to be "keepable", "portable" and have "serendipity". The answer from Ronan was he thought there was a great compliment between online and physical magazines. For me, Ananda's answer was even more interesting; he said that in India people were not using the fixed Internet with only 12M users but there were 450M users using their phones and that the interest in magazines was becoming more of a microcosm; more granular.

I loved these answers because for me they answered it perfectly but did not quite come to the conclusion I would make. For me it's obvious what will happen and they nearly got to it but did not quite get there. Increasingly, over the next 10 years, people will be using mobile devices to read magazines - in the west this will be devices such as Internet tablets and high end smartphones but in places like India it will be all models of mobile phone.

Of course, in 10 years, in India, the smartphone will be the low end device for magazine consumption anyway. These magazines will be "keepable", "portable" and have "serendity" because they will be delivered by tiny apps (hopefully using our own EyeMags technology); they will be physically on the phone and they will in many case be purchased using micro payments systems such as premium SMS or appstores. This is not the online website technique they thought they were talking about. Online websites will continue to exist as complimentary multimedia to the "keepable" and "portable" magazines which themselves will be delivered content applications delivered to the mobile device.

And it will be which will be one of those delivering this technology to all models of phones in all parts of the world as it is already doing so today.

A great programme well worth listening too.

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